Christ the Substitution.

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Peter 2:18-25

Of this God in Christ, our text says that he knew no sin. It does not say that he did not sin; that we know: but it says more than that; he did not know sin; he knew not what sin was. He saw it in others, but he did not know it by experience. He was a perfect stranger to it. It is not barely said, that he did not take sin into his heart, but he did not know it. It was no acquantance of his. He was the acquaintance of grief; but he was not the acquaintance of sin. He knew no sin of any kind,—no sin of thought, no sin of birth, no original, no actual transgression; no sin of lip, or of hand, did ever Christ commit. He was pure, perfect, spotless; like his own divinity, without spot or blemish, or any such thing. This gracious person, is he who is spoken of in the text. He was a person utterly incapable of committing anything that was wrong. It has been asserted lately, by some ill-judged one, that Christ was capable of sin. I think it was Irving who started some such idea, that if Christ was not capable of sinning, he could not have been capable of virtue. “For,” say they, “if a man must necessarily be good, there is no virtue in his goodness.” Away with their ridiculous nonsense! Is not God necessarily good? And who dares deny that God is virtuous? Are not the glorified spirits in heaven necessarily pure? And yet are they not holy because of that very necessity? Are not the angels, now that they are confirmed, necessarily faultless? And shall any one dare to deny angelic virtue! The thing is not true; it needs no freedom in order to create virtue. Freedom and virtue generally go together; but necessity and virtue are as much brother and sister as freedom and virtue. Jesus Christ was not capable of sin.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God: for if righteousness comes by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
(Gal 2:20-21)

Taken from Sermon no. 141-142 by Charles Spurgeon
19 July (1857)

Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart

The Psalmist say that he felt compelled to praise God with an honest and upright heart when he learned of the righteous rules of the Lord.

Psalm 119:7 I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules.

The same should be our reaction when we read God’s word. Our hearts should react with praise towards God. When the Holy Spirit live in us, it will stir our hearts by studying and learning God’s word. It should be our delight to eat God’s word. It will become as sweet as honey in our innermost being and it will compel us to praise the Author of the Word.

Jeremiah 15:16 Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.

If we are called by the Lord of Hosts, His word will be the most important thing to us. It is the voice of our Master to us. We will delight in it. It will bring joy to our hearts.

We are saved by hearing our Savior’s words. How can we not find joy in it or be it our delight. A sign of salvation is that the Word who saved us, which became the voice of God to us, will be very dear to us. We will hunger and thirst for more of it. We want to hear His voice.

Tongues, signs, wonders, miracles and prophecy today?

It is my view from Scripture that tongues and prophecy and signs and wonder gifts have ceased. This does not mean God does not do miracles today. It means that no person can claim to have the gift of healing or signs and wonders like the apostles, because he would heal all. Very little healing does happen today or even immediately. This was not the gift of healing in Scripture. In Acts, merely the shadow of the apostles healed people. Where is this today, because this was the nature of the signs and wonder gifts the apostles had.

A second misleading is to think that one need gifts to experience God or to experience a close relationship with Him. Like hearing Him, or seeing Him doing things. Any person can have a full and living experiential and soul quenching relationship with Jesus without and of these gifts. Our relationship with Jesus is not proven by tongues and prophecy or signs and wonders. It is experienced in the heart first and foremost by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is proven by bearing the fruit of the Spirit ONLY as a proof of the presence and indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-25). The absence of the Holy Spirit is proven by bearing the fruit of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21). Gifts was to build the body and not the self (1 Cor. 14:12; 1 Cor. 12:12-31). Once we use gifts as personal proof and edification, we go against Scripture. The presence of the Holy Spirit as comforter and feeding on the Word of God by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, is the simple reality of a relationship with Jesus.

The Apostle Paul predicted that the gift of tongues would cease (1 Corinthians 13:8). Here are six proofs that it has already ceased:

1) The apostles, through whom tongues came, were unique in the history of the church. Once their ministry was accomplished, the need for authenticating signs ceased to exist.

2) The miracle (or sign) gifts are only mentioned in the earliest epistles, such as 1 Corinthians. Later books, such as Ephesians and Romans, contain detailed passages on the gifts of the Spirit, but the miracle gifts are not mentioned, although Romans does mention the gift of prophecy. The Greek word translated “prophecy” means “speaking forth” and does not necessarily include prediction of the future.

3) The gift of tongues was a sign to unbelieving Israel that God’s salvation was now available to other nations. See 1 Corinthians 14:21-22 and Isaiah 28:11-12.

4) Tongues was an inferior gift to prophecy (preaching). Preaching the Word of God edifies believers, whereas tongues does not. Believers are told to seek prophesying over speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:1-3).

5) History indicates that tongues did cease. Tongues are not mentioned at all by the Post-Apostolic Fathers. Other writers such as Justin Martyr, Origen, Chrysostom, and Augustine considered tongues something that happened only in the earliest days of the Church.

6) Current observation confirms that the miracle of tongues has ceased. If the gift were still available today, there would be no need for missionaries to attend language school. Missionaries would be able to travel to any country and speak any language fluently, just as the apostles were able to speak in Acts 2. As for the miracle gift of healing, we see in Scripture that healing was associated with the ministry of Jesus and the apostles (Luke 9:1-2). And we see that as the era of the apostles drew to a close, healing, like tongues, became less frequent. The Apostle Paul, who raised Eutychus from the dead (Acts 20:9-12), did not heal Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25-27), Trophimus (2 Timothy 4:20), Timothy (1 Timothy 5:23), or even himself (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). The reasons for Paul’s “failures to heal” are 1) the gift was never intended to make every Christian well, but to authenticate apostleship; and 2) the authority of the apostles had been sufficiently proved, making further miracles unnecessary.

The reasons stated above are evidence for cessationism. According to 1 Corinthians 13:13-14:1, we would do well to “pursue love,” the greatest gift of all. If we are to desire gifts, we should desire to speak forth the Word of God, that all may be edified.

Adapted from:

You can read more about this topic at the following links:

The purpose of spiritual gifts – 1 Corinthians 12-14
Speaking in Tongues
Excited Utterances: A Historical Perspective On Prophesy
Charismatic Chaos


John 14:15 17 – In this passage the Lord Jesus Christ calls the Holy Spirit “another comforter”. Here John uses the Greek word “allos” meaning another of the SAME kind, in contrast to “heteros”, which means another of a different kind. The Lord is saying that the Spirit will be the same presence as He has been.

Jesus also said I will not leave you alone. Then Paul explain further when he says “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). It is the Holy Spirit in us that actually change us, and reborn us; born us from above. The Holy Spirit in us make us children of God (Rom. 8:15-16, Gal. 4:6). He seals us forever as God’s (Eph. 4:30). It is His presence in us that enable us to believe in Christ (Gal. 3:14), understand the Word (John 14:26), bear fruit (Gal 5:222-23), obey the law (1 John 5:3, Eph. 2:10), resist temptation (Gal. 5:16), destroy the power of the sinful nature (Rom. 6:4-6) and give gifts to edify the Church (1 Cor. 12:7).

When we say Jesus lives in me, we mean the Holy Spirit lives in me. The Holy Spirit is a person and God and not just an extension of God or a manifestation of God.

I believe the event with Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11), was a revelation of who the Holy Spirit is. God demonstrated with that event to the church that the Holy Spirit is God and any sin against Him is punishable with death like when you sin against God. With that event God proof to the Church that the Holy Spirit that they just received as a new reality is also God. By that God confirmed the trinity. Now the church know that the Holy Spirit is not a force or an entity, but actually a person and God himself. After that event the fear of God for the Holy Spirit was in them.

What about tongues?

This is the sermon notes of a sermon on tongues by Pastor Tim Cantrell from Antioch Bible Church.

Here is a link to the mp3 of the sermon.

The Childish Church: What About Tongues – 1 Corinthians 14:1

What about tongues?

Turn to 1 Cor. 14, one of the most hotly debated chapters in all the Bible, and one of the most quoted & loved chapters in today’s Charismatic Movmt.

Though 1 Cor. 13 was very convicting, there was little debate. – Who can argue about the importance of love? – Studying 1 Cor. 13 in all its warmth & beauty felt like sitting on the seashore, lounging in our beach chair, under our umbrella, watching the waves roll in and sun set, looking forward to Heaven and that eternal world of love.

But then, we notice the waves starting to recede rapidly. – We look up, lower our sunglasses, and what do we see on the waters? A gigantic tsunami headed straight for us: 1 Cor. 14! (Ah, the adventure of expository preaching!)

This morning’s sermon needs no further introduction. – After I read the passage, every one of you should be asking tons of questions and be desperate for an explanation!

Taken from the key verse & command right in the middle of this chapter. – Before we get into our outline, let’s look at this over-arching theme & umbrella idea for this whole chapter:

v. 20a – Paul not talking merely to pupils or robots, but to family in Christ. – 3x he warmly addresses them here as “brethren”, vv. 6, 20, 26. –

NOT barking orders at them, but bringing a brotherly appeal and pastoral instruction & warning. – I pray that will also be my tone in this message (and series), and your tone as you take these truths to others who are still confused or misled.

v. 20b – KJV, “…in understanding be men.” – 2x here Paul says, ‘Time to ‘man up’, to grow up, Corinthians. Enough of this child’s play in your worship.’

a. Don’t be childish:

Ouch. – Remember, the Corinthians prided themselves in how knowledgeable and mature they were (‘very wise, spiritually advanced’? – But in love, Paul wants to deflate their self-image, to give them a more accurate view of their spiritual health at present.

Back in chp. 3, Paul said the same thing: ‘I wanted to speak to you as “spiritual men”, but instead you are still behaving as “infants in Christ”, able only to have “milk to drink, not solid food”.’

The writer of Hebrews said the same thing in Heb. 5:12-14 – that they should’ve been ready for steak by now, but were still stuck on milk. – Over-grown infants, stunted in their growth.

So here (in chp. 14), Paul tells the Corinthians that, in their approach to church & corporate worship, they’d become like kids:

+ Think about how kids behave at the grocery store: They don’t walk in and say,

‘Hmmm, where are the healthy foods. Hey, let’s check the calories on this product, or the price-per-kgs?…’ –

O NO, kids, you look for what’s colourful, what sparkles, what looks fun or tastes most yummy! – ‘Mmmm, donuts, cakes, sweeties, games, toys’ (Some of us dads aren’t much better at the store! J)

In the checkout line, what do they put just at a kids’ eye level? Vitamins? Bibles? Fruits & veggies? – Nope!…

Reread: v. 20…

See, kids think only about instant gratification of self, NOT long-term edification of others. – They are still takers; they haven’t learned yet to be givers.

So Paul says, ‘You Corinthians have got it all backwards. You SHOULD be naive kids, even “infants”, when it comes to sin & evil & malicious things: v. 20c…

Yes, be clueless & completely inexperienced in sin! – But NOT when it comes to your thinking about gifts & the church and loving & serving others with your spiritual gifts.’

Jeremiah rebuked Israel for the same thing centuries earlier:

Jer. 4:22, My people are fools; they do not know Me. They are senseless children; they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil; they know not how to do good.

Jesus also said it: Matt. 10:16, “Be as shrewd as serpents, and as innocent as doves,” said Jesus.

Paul also said it to the Romans: Rom. 16:19, “…be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil”.

~ As one writer put it, “It is good to be childlike when it comes to innocence, but not when it comes to the critical thinking skills which are needed for mature Christian living for the health of a church!” (Ciampa & Rosner)

Scripture calls us to have a childlike faith, but not be a childlike church. – We are to have a childlike dependence on our heavenly Father, but not a childlike ignorance about doctrine & ministry.

Paul said the same in: Eph. 4:14…

YET the problem at Corinth was the same as today’s Church: We’ve reverted to childishness, we’ve failed to grow up. –

We live in an age of dwarfs & midgets in the Church, when once there were giants in the land.

+ A recent study has been done proving this trend toward childishness in the Church: It’s a new book called The Juvenilization of American Christianity, by Thomas Bergler (which my Dad introduced to me last month when they were here). – Sadly, these trends are not limited just to the States. – Bergler studies Western Christianity over the past 75 years. – Here are some of his conclusions:

Many of the activities that were once found only in youth groups have now become mainstream for the entire church: pop worship music; falling in love with Jesus; jeans & t-shirts at church; mission trips; church hopping; faith-based political activism; seeker-centred churches.

These trends (not all bad) began as ways to reach the younger generation. – But a quiet revolution gradually occurred, unnoticed by most of us, in which now those youthful methods have become the norm and the ideal in church life. –

The short, simple little sermonettes once common in youth group have now become the staple diet in the pulpit. – Your emotional relationship with Jesus is emphasised over any intellectual or doctrinal concerns. – Christianity gets dumbed down to the lowest common denominators of consumer appeal, rather than giving people a well-articulated belief system.

I.e., Christianity has become “juvenilised” = is becoming less mature, more childish. – Bergler notes that the youthful energy & new life has been great for the Church. – But this shift has also led the Church away from inter-generational community & deep theological literacy. –

This juvenilising has produced: a shallow, feel-good faith; widespread spiritual immaturity; rampant consumerism; and an epidemic of religious self-centredness.

Sounds exactly like 1st century Corinth! – Repeat: v. 20…

NB here in 14:20, WHERE does their childishness start? – Not with their tongues, or their prophecies. – Not with their words, or their actions. – O no, those are the symptoms. –

The problem begins with our THOUGHTS. – NB 2x, “in your thinking”, you need to grow up, mature, progress. –

b. In your thinking:

Cf. back to 12:1, ignorance is at the root of our problems. – We live in a mindless age. – The pace of life, the mind-numbing effects of TV & internet & social media & news, the overload of information – it’s all making us dumb & dumber and shallow & shallower!

v. 20 could hardly be more timely. – Most of the confusion around 1 Cor. 14 & the Charismatic Movmt today would not exist if people were willing to exercise their minds, to think more carefully about what Paul is actually saying here.

Christianity is a faith for thinkers. – It is about much more than just the mind, but never less than the mind. – Conversion & the new birth includes a new mind, new thoughts, about God & sin & Christ & salvation & everything. –

Christianity is not about how intelligent you are; but it is about God cleansing & changing your mind, and about Christ becoming Lord over every part of you, including your mind. –

What did Jesus tell us is the greatest commandment? – Matt. 22 (from Deut. 6), to “love the Lord your God will all your heart, soul, and…MIND.” (as we’ll see tonight)

GOSPEL: My unsaved friend – Have you given your mind & life to Christ? – Don’t check your brain at the door. – Bring it in and give it, and your whole self, to Christ! – to the One who died for you & rose again to save you. – He alone reserves the right to rule & govern you and renew your mind!…

Christians, this is what biblical meditation is all about – Ps. 1, Josh. 1 – our entire success & vitality as God’s people hinges on our ability to meditate, to think & chew on God’s truth until it soaks into our soul and permeates our life.

Scripture speaks of this often:

Rom. 12:2 – I.e., You will not live differently until you start thinking differently. – And in Rom. 12:3 Paul uses the Grk word for “think” 4x in one verse!

Cf. Eph. 4:23, we are changed by “being renewed in the spirit of your mind”. – Php. 4:8…

~ Ravi Zacharias’ motto, “Let my people think!”

In Calvin’s commentary on 1 Cor. 14, he speaks of how the Popes of his day loved to use meaningless rituals to keep their people dumb & ignorant. – You know that some colonial powers here in Africa worked hard to avoid educating the masses. –

Other world religions & cults call people to empty their minds, to focus upon some simple object and suspend all thinking.

Zionist & charismatic churches across Africa major on emotions & church laws & their leaders’ authority, rather than on training people to read the Bible for themselves. – But WHY?

WHY do all these groups discourage thinking and keep people in darkness & ignorance?

Ultimately, because that is the aim of Satan. – He is the Lord of darkness. – He loves it when Christianity becomes mystical instead of mental. – He is tickled pink when you follow feelings, experience, culture, or human tradition, instead of being a Berean and studying Scripture for yourself and learning to think:

Repeat v. 20…

WHAT THEN are we to think maturely about? – Where is it that our childishness often shows up most & does the most damage? – Here, in our church life.

So Paul begins this whole chp as he does:

v. 1 – Top priority? Pursue love, as saw in chp. 13 for many weeks! But lest they misunderstand Paul and say he’s ‘dissing’ the gifts altogether:

v. 1b – I.e., ‘Because you love one another and desire the best for your brothers & sisters in Christ – out of love, desire the best gifts for the church body.’

If not personally, since chp. 12 made clear that none of us can all have the gifts (vv. 11, 29-31), and not all will prophesy – if not personally, at least corporately:

I.e., ‘Corporately desire such gifts, “you” plural, y’all seek these gifts for your church. Cultivate this gift among you.’

So that we mature instead of becoming a childish church, and so we can help others who are confused, we’ll answer TWO QUESTIONS about the gift of tongues:

NB, a bit more topical, thematic approach for next 2 weeks: today, tongues; next week, DV, prophecy….

For many unchurched outsiders, if you ask them what is a charismatic or a Pentecostal church, they will say, ‘O, the people who speak in tongues.’ – It is perhaps the most common badge of this movement, which is THE fastest growing branch of Christianity today, worldwide.

What a great time to be alive & to be studying 1 Corinthians!

1. WHAT is the Gift of Tongues?

Sunday school literature from one charismatic church – colouring book for kids: cartoon of a smiling weightlifter with T-shirt that says, ‘Spirit Man’, and under him is: 1 Cor. 14:4a (not a compliment from Paul!)…

Then, on another page, a cartoon of a boy with his hands lifted up. – A balloon caption comes out of his lungs, saying, ‘BAH-LE-ODOMA-TA-LAH-SE-TA NO-MO’. – Another caption comes from his mouth, saying: ‘BAH-LE-ODOMA-TA-LAH-SE-TA NO-MO’

So the child is told to keep repeating: ‘BAH-LE-ODOMA-TA-LAH-SE-TA NO-MO’

But then there is a caption coming from his brain, with a big question-mark. – Next to it is written: 1 Cor. 14:14….

Is THAT the spiritual gift of tongues? – Is that how Scripture describes it?…

Only one passage in all of Scripture describes for us how tongues originally functioned. – Turn back to Acts 2 (which we studied a couple of years ago):

Context: 120 in the upper room (1:15), praying & waiting for Christ’s promise of His Spirit (1:8) to empower them as His witnesses to the ends of the earth. – Chp. 2, God pours out His Spirit, vindicates His Son whom they had crucified, and Christ births His Church! –

BUT HOW did all the bystanders in Jerusalem really know this was God’s Spirit, when there are plenty of frauds & pretenders in every age?

They knew because God gave signs to validate & authenticate what He was doing. – Not only a rushing wind and tongues of fire, but also: 2:4-11…

It’s obvious that this was known human languages, NOT something they’d ever learned or imitated before: 15 different nationalities mentioned here!…

NB, vv. 6 & 8: “language”, from Grk, dialekto – can only mean a known human language. – If these people were babbling away with some unknown spiritual language, nobody in Jerusalem on that day would’ve said, “We hear them in our own language”. –

And nobody would’ve given Peter the time of day to then stand up & preach if he did. – If it was just strange jibberish, they would’ve just dismissed them as lunatics….

NB, v. 2:13, the people asked, “What does this mean?” – And here we are today, 2,000 yrs later, and again there is confusion around this gift of tongues, and again we are asking, “What does this mean?”

BUT aren’t you glad that God is not silent about this. – Through Peter (and now the entire NT) we have an answer to this perennial, burning question, ‘What do these tongues mean?’

Answer – keep reading: Acts 2:14-18…

The gift of tongues was clearly a SIGN, usually accompanied by prophecy, another sign-gift. – This gift of languages was a sign that the end times prophesied by Joel & the OT had begun in Christ, that the age of Messiah & outpouring of God’s Spirit, was now inaugurated.

This gift of tongues appears 2 other times in Acts: (though probably also implied at Samaria in 8:17-18)

Chp. 10 – when Pentecost was re-inacted for the first Gentile believers: Cornelius & his household.– Read: 10:44-46a…

NB, purpose of tongues, v. 45, a sign to the Jews that God was doing a new thing, now including the Gentiles into His Church!… (Cf. 11:17, Peter says it was the same as Pentecost)

Then, once more, tongues/languages appear in chp. 19 of Acts. –

One last ‘satellite Pentecost’ for a group of OT saints in far off Ephesus. – They hadn’t even heard yet that Pentecost happened and that God’s Spirit had come: 19:5-6… (nb, tongues & prophesy together again)

NB, purpose of tongues?: to signify a ‘Grand Opening’, to validate the inclusion of a new group into Christ’s newly born Church at the start of a whole new era, the Church Age.

Both in Acts 10 & 19, God’s Spirit went ‘out of His way’ & tongues were given into two special situations – why? – To signify that Gentiles & OT saints could now be invited into the Church on equal basis as the 3,000 Jews saved at Jerusalem. –

ALL are welcome into Christ’s Church on same terms: by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

Repeat Question #1, ‘What is the Gift of Tongues’ – In Acts, it is clearly a miraculous ability to speak previously unlearned foreign languages, as a sign to the Jews authenticating the apostolic era and the new, international work God was birthing in Christ’s Church.

I.e., Tongues confirmed for the Jews the earth-shattering change that was happening now that Messiah had come: that God was replacing their long-established & revered Old Covenant with a new & better New Covt., one that would also include non-Jews!

After these 3 places in Acts, where else is tongues mentioned in the NT? –

Aside from a highly debatable reference to tongues in the longer ending to Mark which is probably not original, here in 1 Cor. 12-14 is the only other place. – That’s it, no place else. (Perhaps also a hint of the relative unimportance of tongues for the overall health & establishing of a church?)

And recall – it’s the Apostle Paul writing 1 Cor., the same Paul who saw tongues at Ephesus in Acts 19, and who would’ve heard often about the wonders of Pentecost and about Cornelius’ conversion. – Paul planted both these churches – at Ephesus and at Corinth.

Furthermore, 1 Cor. was probably written a few years before Luke even completed Acts, NOT as some date much later than the Book of Acts.

So unless Paul indicates here in 1 Cor. that this gift of tongues has changed in some way, isn’t it pretty safe to assume we’re dealing with the SAME gift as in Acts? – I think so.

“Tongues” first appears in 1 Cor. 12 on Paul’s lists of gifts – vv. 10, 28. – NB, both times, tongues lands lasts on Paul’s long list of gifts. Hmmm, another hint of its relative unimportance, even then?…

Then we come to our text, chp. 14, where tongues appears numerous times. – But from Acts we’ve answered our first question:

The gift of tongues is a miraculous ability to speak previously unlearned foreign languages, as a sign to the Jews authenticating the apostolic era and the new, international work God was birthing in Christ’s Church.

Compare this to today’s tongues: One top linguist, William Samarin, researched numerous claims of tongues-speaking, and concluded: ‘Charismatic proponents have given no evidence, other than their own assumptions, that their modern tongues are the same phenomena as in the NT.’

We know of NO authentic, proven cases of anyone today speaking in an identifiable, translatable language as it was in the apostolic era of the 1st c.

2. WHY are tongues inferior to hearing God’s Word? (in church)

FOUR REASONS why tongues are inferior to prophecy:

a. vv. 2-5, Because uninterpreted tongues benefit nobody but you.

v. 2 – Because you’re at Corinth in a mostly Greek church, not at Pentecost in Jerusalem with dozens of different nations in attendance. – And God sure doesn’t need to hear your message, since He’s the One that gave it to you in the first place.

Someone has said that today’s counterfeit tongues are ‘an attempt to utter the unutterable that comes out as unintelligible’ (Geisler), a kind of spiritual stuttering.

Mysteries – NOT = some mysterious babbling, but what “mystery” always means in Paul’s writings: ‘revealed truth, long-hidden truths about God’s salvation plan, now unveiled in Christ’.

v. 4a – Is this ever a legitimate goal in corporate worship? – Should you ever seek anything in church life for the sake of self-edification?

Never: 1 Cor. 12:7; 13:5b (cf. 8:1c); 10:24, 33…

No less than 6x in chp. 14 Paul points out that gifts are only for edifying the body, not self. – Tongues used on self are tongues misused.

To seek self-edification is a contradiction in terms: Edifying in the NT & Paul’s writings is always something you do for others, never self. – We naturally build up self; nobody has to teach us to do that. What takes work and supernatural love is to learn to build up others more than self. (cf. 1 Pet. 4:10)

BTW, if v. 4 says that the tongues-speaker “edifies himself”, it must be referring to a language that at least he understood (not today’s so-called private prayer languages, which are unintelligible, only something to be felt, not comprehended). –

Because every time Paul speaks of edification here (or anywhere), it always involves understandable words & comprehension: vv. 3, 4b, 5d, 6, 12, 17, 19, 26

v. 5a – Of course, Paul knew that wasn’t possible: 12:11, 30… But Paul uses hyperbole (exaggeration), to emphasise that tongues were still a valid, vital spiritual gift at that time.

v. 5d – NB, v. 5d, IF tongues could be “interpreted”, they must’ve been a discernible language. – To interpret jibberish is to create meaning, not interpret it.

Paul hammering home this main theme again, for the 3rd time in the last 3 vss: edification, cf. v. 26d… – THE deciding factor for the exercise of any spiritual gift in the church:

‘Will it edify the church body? If so, do it. If not, refrain, no matter how spiritual & right it may feel. Only do what edifies, no more, no less.’

One tongues’ speaker testifies: ‘What’s the use of speaking in tongues?’ The only way I can answer that is to say, ‘What’s the use of a bluebird? What is the use of a sunset?’ Just sheer, unmitigated uplift, just joy unspeakable and with it health and peace and rest and release from burdens and tensions.

Or another: When I started praying in tongues I felt, and people told me I looked, 20 yrs younger! …I am built up, am given joy, courage, peace, the sense of God’s presence; and I happen to be a weak personality who needs this.

That may make for a great sales pitch. – But how does it line up with Scripture?: v. 12…

b. vv. 6-12, Because uninterpreted tongues are useless.

v. 6 – I.e., ‘I could speak with the most impressive, angelic tongues you’ve ever heard – BUT, with no interpreter, the profit would be? Zero.’

Now Paul fires off 3 illustrations from ordinary life in the ancient world – from music, battle, and conversation:

v. 7 – That’s exactly what would happen if I picked up a flute or harp! – A bunch of useless sounds that would drive you crazy! – Two beautiful instruments, the flute & harp, that can bring such pleasure & peace. – But without being ‘interpreted’ through being played by skilful hands, these lovely instruments are wasted.

v. 8 – The military trumpet used in ancient battle calls to rouse the troups. – But only when blown (‘interpreted’) by an experienced trumpeter, whose skills give an intelligible voice to that bugle.

v. 9 – Only thing worse than edifying yourself is just edifying the air! If the air you breathe is your only audience, you might just want to rethink what you’re doing.

v. 10 – What makes a language a language is that some group of people out there, somewhere, actually understands what you’re saying. – If you’re the only one who gets it, that’s not a language, that’s just called entertainment for the rest of us. –

Clearly then, the gift of tongues is a language that has meaning, not just unintelligible sounds or spiritual mumbling.

v. 11 – The Corinthians knew all about this: Barbarians = non-Greeks who were basically illiterate when it came to the lingua franca of the day, which was Greek. – You tried to do business with these sort of ‘Gypsies’, but it was very frustrating b/c you couldn’t communicate with one another.

v. 12 – We’re back full circle: 12:31; 14:1a, 5d…

YEARN for God’s best, long for His power, seek His gifts in the church. – BUT not for self, but for others. – Not for your experience, but for our growth as a body. – Be a ZEALOT in the church, not so you can feel spiritual personally, but so that WE can be spiritual corporately.

Be a zealot about ministering to others, not yourself.

c. vv. 13-19, Because uninterpreted tongues are emotional but not rational.

Some charismatic seminars tell people to switch off their minds:

When you pray with your spirit, you do not think of the sounds of the language. Just trust Gd, but make the sounds when I tell you to. In just a moment when I tell you go, being loving and praising God by speaking forth a lot of different syllable sounds. At first make the sounds rapidly so you won’t try to think as you do in speaking your natural language…. Make the sounds loudly at first so you can easily hear what you are saying.

…The reason some of you don’t speak fluently [in tongues] is that you tried to think of the sounds. …don’t try to think!…

Many today think a prayer is more spiritual if you don’t know what your praying but are just lost in some kind of ecstatic trance before God. – But here’s what Paul thinks about that:

vv. 13-15 – What profit is there if I pray in Chinese? – It may sound or feel more spiritual to me; but it’s actually just nonsense UNLESS my mind is involved. – Jesus told us the greatest command is to? – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and MIND” (Matt. 22:37). –

Mindless worship is fruitless worship. – Mindless worship does no good to anyone, not even you in the long run, because of forming such a deadly habit as switching off.

Just this past week, some ex-charismatics were telling me of how one of their former small group leaders was renowned for trying to get everyone to speak in tongues. –

He would tell all the newbies, ‘Repeat after me, repeat after me….’ – If they struggled, he would say, ‘You’re thinking too much, you’re thinking too much. Switch off!…’

Whenever someone says or implies that you switch your mind off, that’s the time to switch it ON more than ever before! – “Worship that disengages the mind is exceptionally dangerous.”

NB, Paul wasn’t the only one who rejected praying prayers you don’t understand. Jesus did, too: “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do.” (Matthew 6:7)

Plainly put: God doesn’t want to be prayed to that way. – He doesn’t want half of you; He wants ALL of you, including your mind.

Reread: v. 20…

From TAG book (by Kenyan pastors): “Tongues-speaking which minimises the mind and maximises ecstatic experience is more pagan than biblical. The great emphasis on tongues-speaking in most Pentecostal and charismatic circles is unbiblical and causes offence and division within the body of Christ.”

vv. 16-17 – Instead of saying, ‘Amen’, all they can say is, ‘Huh??’. – Instead of ministering to them, all you are doing is frustrating them.

HOWEVER, says Paul, ‘don’t get me wrong’:

v. 18 – I.e., ‘I’m not for a minute doubting the genuineness of the spiritual gift of tongues in the early church. But I am ranking it much lower on my list of priorities when we gather for corporate worship:’

v. 19 – Here’s how important tongues was to Paul: Five words of teaching in your language is 9,995 times better than something in tongues.

Review above 3 reasons…

Joel James (in his super booklet) tells of a friend at varsity telling him how his church taught him to speak in tongues (as something ‘every Christian should do’). – The procedure was simple:

…he was to sit in his room at night with all the lights off, and repeat out loud the vowel sounds (a, e, i, o, and u). Eventually the sounds would start to flow by themselves, and he would have learned to speak in tongues.

Now compare that with what we’re learning about true, biblical tongues.

Here’s a 4th & final reason for why tongues should have an inferiority complex:

d. vv. 20-23, Because tongues are a sign for unbelieving Jews.

All 3x in Acts, and so here:

v. 21 – Qtg from Isaiah about the Assyrians – NB, these “strange tongues” were those of Assyrians, an actual, known language. – As a sign of God’s judgment on Israel, by bringing in foreign oppressors whose language they would not know. –

Like waking up at night and hearing a foreign language outside your window. – NOT a good sign.

v. 22a – Says one writer (or paraphrase in my own words): Tongues signified that God had begun a new work that encompassed the Gentiles. The Lord would now speak to all nations in all languages. The barriers were down. And so the gift of languages symbolized not only the curse of God on a disobedient nation, but also the blessing of God on the whole world. (MacArthur)

I.e., tongues has NO purpose when only believers are together.

v. 23 – It will bedlam, chaos, anarchy! – And the world will love it – just the proof they wanted that we’re a bunch of lunatics and madmen! –

Charismatic chaos in the church discredits the gospel and ruins our witness to a lost world.

NB the irony here between vv. 22 & 23: tongues are for evangelising the lost, as seen clearly in Acts, as it drew a crowd & created a platform for preaching the gospel. –

YET when tongues are uninterpreted or disorderly, it only hinders our evangelism.

CONCL. – Repeat: 2 points & 4 subpoints…

But how could I leave out the final, burning question: Are tongues for today??

Answer: You’ll have to wait until next Sunday. – And please pray for me as I prepare. – And pray that God will use this to help many who are confused and in great need of sound doctrine and a firm foundation upon Scripture.

I once heard a prominent Christian leader sharing about his devotional life. – He said he would go into a dark room, empty his mind, and open himself to whatever God would say. – ‘You must learn to listen, just listen to God, stop trying to figure Him out, and just listen.’

But someone needs to tell that leader in that dark room: ‘Sir, please, go turn on the lights, and open your Bible, tremble before His Word, and use your mind. Only then will God speak to you.’

Repeat: v. 20…

James Orr, “A religion divorced from earnest and lofty thought has always, down through the history of the Church, tended to become weak…and unwholesome.”